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Play Ball! Baseball as a New Asset Class


Even people who aren't baseball fans will usually concede that there is something special and hopeful about opening day for America's pastime. The crack of the bat, the smell of hotdogs, the national anthem; there is truly something for everyone.

For some, opening day is also the equivalent of open for business and means it is time to get to work. Joe Peta, author of Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball, has an amazing story about becoming a different type of trader.

For 15 years he made a good living working on Wall Street, until a random accident sent him in a new direction.

"Two years ago I was crossing the street in lower Manhattan and I got run over by an ambulance," Peta recounts in the attached video. The accident left him alone, in a wheelchair and unable to work. It also gave him the time to start "looking very analytically at baseball."

It wasn't long before he began utilizing the skills he had acquired on Wall Street.

"As I did that, I started building a model and making projections and I realized they were very similar to the models I built on Wall Street to value stocks," he says. Before long his goal was simple: Remove the emotion, think like a trader, and apply that to baseball.

Before long he found a publisher that was eager to continue the success of the book-turned-movie Money Ball, and was headed to Las Vegas to test his model for real during the 2012 season.

Six months and 40% later, Peta knew he had a home run. In fact, in some ways he found it was easier to make money betting on hits, runs and errors than on stocks, bonds and commodities. Not only had he proven his model was viable, but he learned that there were a lot of sophisticated investors and hedge funds that were hungry for a new, non-correlated asset class.

For now, he says "the scale is not there" in baseball betting to support more than a few million dollars of fund assets and still be able to replicate his returns. That said, and being cognizant of the fact that sophisticated investors want alternatives like this but can't get them, Peta says the ball is really in the hands of the gaming companies, should they want to diversify into something new.

"This is a huge opportunity for Vegas," Peta says, implying some pretty good odds that the gaming industry would be crazy not to cozy up to the investment business.

And why not. If we can play stocks, why can't we play ball?!